Pioneer of conceptual art

Ger van Elk (1941-2014) is considered to be one of the pioneers of conceptual art in the Netherlands, along with fellow artists of his generation Jan Dibbets, Marinus Boezem and Stanley Brouwn. But in contrast to ‘pure’ conceptual art, it’s not just the idea but also the actual execution of an artwork which matters to Van Elk. 

Humor and playful approach

Van Elk uses ingenious staging and a humorous and playful approach to undermine the traditional dividing-lines between painting, sculpture and photography, and between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional.


Sportive Sculpture is made from linen, a real material for painters. The linen has been used to form a tent shape, which is stretched by elastic bands and then hung as a spatial painting on the wall. 4 photos are stuck to the white canvas, each showing Van Elk himself dangling in a smart suit from a rope: the artist tangled up in a hopeless tug of war with himself. In the middle of the artwork, the 4 photographed ropes turn then into a real rope, which hangs loosely from the canvas. Van Elk is juggling here with the traditional differences between painting, sculpture and photography, and between three-dimensional objects and flat surfaces. 

Art & Project

From the beginning of his career as an artist, Ger van Elk was attached to the prestigious gallery Art & Project (1968-2001). In 2013, Adriaan van Ravesteijn (1938-2015), former gallerist of Art & Project, donated over 200 hundred works of art to the Kröller-Müller Museum. The works in this presentation are from this donation, supplemented by 2 works from the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Photos: Overview exhibiton Ger van Elk (photo: Marjon Gemmeke)